Thursday, 18 August 2011

Sacré bleu!

And all sorts of other imprecations. Is nothing sacred?

I suppose it is perhaps the stereotypical image of a Frenchman: wearing a beret, riding a bicycle, cigarette drooping from a corner of the mouth and carrying a baguette in one hand. The French, I think, eat more bread than do we Brits. Certainly, a basket of bread is routinely placed on the table in restaurants over there. As well as eating more of it, they have a wider variety of it than we do. Most English people these days buy their bread from supermarkets, usually wrapped in cellophane and already cut into slices. That sort of bread is also available in French supermarkets (it's known as American bread) but those same shops also stock a range of different loaves, many baked in the stores own bakery. At least, that is what we are told.

(We are also told that in England but research has shown that much of the bread supposedly baked in-store comes delivered as part-baked loaves which only need finishing off.)

However, what the French have but we do not - at least, not to the same extent - are small, independent bakers. One of the delights of being in France is visiting the boulangerie for freshly baked bread. If it is a baguette that one buys, it has to be eaten that day as the bread goes stale very quickly, presumably because the preservatives that are routinely added to the pap that our supermarkets call bread are missing. That is why so many French housewives are (or were) accustomed to visiting the boulangerie twice a day. But things are about to change.

Somebody -and a French somebody at that! - has invented a slot machine to sell baguettes. Customers insert a coin (currently one euro, which is more than 20 cents above the standard price) and the machine warms up a loaf before dispensing it. Reports are that the machines, of which I understand two have so far been installed, are proving very popular. Somehow it just doesn't seem right to me.

1 comment:

#1Nana said...

I wish we had one of those machines in Hermiston. We can't buy good bread here. There are several in-store bakeries, but they have horrid bread. Oh for a warm, crusty loaf of fresh bread...